Entries Filed in 'Capitol news'

New AARP poll underscores need for policy reforms for rapidly aging state

July 22nd, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news

Maine's capitol at night, photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine’s capitol at night, photo by Ramona du Houx

A new AARP poll of Mainers underscores the need for policy leaders to focus on keeping seniors in their homes and communities longer.

AARP asked 2,000 Maine voters over the age of 50 about a number of issues affecting their lives. One of the areas of top concern was helping seniors to stay in their own homes as they age. Seventy nine percent of respondents said they were very or extremely likely to vote for a candidate who would work on ensuring Mainers can afford to stay in their homes as they grow older.

“We must overhaul how we think about caring for our seniors to ensure they can stay in their homes and communities longer. Maine people expect leaders to address the challenges facing our aging population,” said Speaker of the House Mark Eves, who has a led a statewide aging initiative to create aging-friendly communities across Maine.

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Congressman Mike Michaud leads the race for governor in new statewide Maine poll

July 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news

The Michaud for Maine campaign today released the results of a new statewide poll that shows U.S. Rep. Michaud leading the race for governor, with Gov. Paul LePage stuck in the 30s and independent Eliot Cutler dropping further into the low teens.

The poll, which was conducted July 14-16, found Michaud leading the race with 41 percent of the vote, while LePage had 37 percent and Cutler had 13 percent. Only 7 percent of voters were undecided.

“Our most recent poll confirms what we have seen consistently throughout this race. Congressman Michaud is maintaining a small lead over Gov. LePage, while Eliot Cutler is far behind, even after his supporters spent $125,000 on television commercials trying to boost his campaign,” said Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Michaud. “Congressman Michaud remains the candidate to beat in this race and has the best chance to unseat Gov. LePage.”

The three candidates in the race are well-known and have strong name identification, with 98 percent of respondents identifying LePage, 92 percent identifying Michaud and 81 percent identifying Cutler.

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LePage held back $4.6 million in state funding to play politics with nursing homes

July 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Health Care, Healthy Lifestyles

Maine State Capitol photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine State Capitol photo by Ramona du Houx

 Top Democratic leaders slammed Governor Paul LePage’s administration for playing politics with money that could help struggling nursing homes across the state. LePage announced that for weeks his administration has been working on a plan to provide $4.6 million in state funding to nursing homes, in addition to the $12 million already provided by the Legislature as part of LD 1776. Funds were allocated by the Legislature without LePage’s approval for nursing homes.  But for weeks LePage has been inaccurately blaming Democrats for failing to fund nursing homes. And at a press conference the Governor bizarrely claimed credit for the bill, that helps nursing homes, although his signature is not on the law.

“The Governor’s announcement is more proof that he’s been playing politics with nursing homes. Why would he sit on $4.6 million in savings when nursing homes were struggling? And why would he call on lawmakers to return to Augusta when he already had the funding?” said Speaker of the House Mark Eves. “The timing of this announcement is clearly meant to distract from his poor track record for Maine seniors and his latest out-of-touch comment labeling Social Security as Welfare. It’s smoke and mirrors.”

In addition, LePage has consistently taken funds from healthcare initiatives to help balance his budgets and give a substantial tax break to Maine’s 1 percent. LePage raided the Fund for Healthy Maine, which are monies the state receives from the federal government as part of the nationwide tabacco settlement. Governor Baldacci, LePage’s predecessor, never allocated money from the Fund for a Healthy Maine for anything other than healthcare related issues, as a matter of principle. Baldacci had stated, “the health and well being of Maine citizens has to be any governor’s top priority.”

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Cain for Congress reports more than $375,000 in 2nd quarter fundraising

July 15th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news

Rep. Emily Cain in Augusta. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Cain for Congress is reporting $379,093 in fundraising for the second quarter in Emily Cain’s campaign for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District. That total includes $270,239 in fundraising since the last reporting deadline on May 21, 2014. This report brings the overall total for the campaign cycle to $871,491 raised by Cain for Congress.

“Emily Cain is the candidate that will represent the values of the 2nd District in Washington, period,” said Levi Knapp, campaign manager of Cain for Congress. “She advocates for the working class families in the state, and isn’t afraid to work together for the best interests of Maine people. She knows the values of the district because she shares those values. And that’s why most of her money has come from within the state – because she’s running against someone who is a millionaire who believes that rules don’t apply to him. And that’s not the voice that this district wants in Washington.”

The fundraising report, which will be reported to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) later today, shows the campaign with more than $243,000 cash on hand at the end of the quarter.

“Maine voters have a clear choice in November,” said Knapp. “Bruce Poliquin supports budgets that ultimately cost seniors more money and is out of step with Maine voters on issues like abortion and choice. On the flipside, Emily is the best candidate to represent the views of the 2nd CD in Washington because she shares our values, and knows how to work for the people she represents.”

Cain’s campaign has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO, EMILY’s List, League of Conservation Voters, IBEW Local 104, Equality Maine, The Maine State Association of Letter Carriers, The American Federation of Teachers, The American Nurses Association, American Maritime Officers, International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots, Seafarers International Union, Marine Engineer’s Beneficial Association, Human Rights Campaign, NARAL, The Women’s Campaign Fund, WUFPAC, The Council for a Livable World, and dozens of current legislators, former legislators, and town and county officials throughout the district.

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Maine panel tasked to create a plan to improve access to food for hungry children meets

July 8th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Community Maine, Public Safety

Maine State Capitol photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine State Capitol photo by Ramona du Houx

The Task Force to End Student Hunger convened yesterday in Augusta for its first of five meetings focused on developing a multi-year plan to improve access to food for students and end child hunger in Maine.

During today’s meeting, the panel focused on gaining an understanding of the scope of hunger among school-aged children in Maine and the numerous programs and agencies involved in providing meals to Maine’s students.

“The reality is that student hunger connects every part of our state. It is a Maine problem,” said Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland, who serves as the co-chair of the task force. “If we want our students to be successful then we must improve the reality that almost one in four school-aged children in Maine is hungry.”

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Democrats to hold nominating caucus for Senate District 15 as Rebecca Cornell du Houx seeks nomination

July 1st, 2014 · 1 Comment · Capitol news

National Guard Specialist Rebecca Cornell du Houx is seeking the Democratic nomination to run for Augusta Senate Seat 15

National Guard Specialist Rebecca Cornell du Houx is seeking the Democratic nomination to run for Augusta Senate Seat 15

The Kennebec County Democratic Committee will convene a nominating caucus on Wednesday, July 9, from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM in the Lecture Hall at Augusta City Center, located at 16 Cony Street. The caucus will select a new Democratic nominee for Senate District 15. Prior Democratic nominee Anna Blodgett has withdrawn from the race.

Rebecca Cornell du Houx (D-Augusta) has announced her candidacy for the seat. Cornell du Houx served as a Carpentry/Masonry specialist with Maine’s National Guard in the 133rd Engineer Battalion. She continues to serve in the Army National Guard reserves, where she is trained as an EMT and Combat Medic.

“I am running because working families in Kennebec County deserve a voice,” said Cornell du Houx. “We must invest in real economic development, help small businesses grow, and protect the most vulnerable people in our communities, especially children and seniors.”

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Gov. LePage dodges association with domestic terrorist group Sovereign Citizens

July 1st, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Civil Rights

Maine State Capitol. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine State Capitol. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Governor LePage’s refused to take responsibility for holding 8 private meetings with members of a domestic terrorist movement that is on the FBI watch list, Sovereign Citizens. New reports today claim that LePage lied about the content discussed in his meetings with the extremest group, which has allegedly threatened to arrest and execute Maine Democratic leadership.

“Gov. LePage’s words and actions are out of step with Maine values. By meeting repeatedly with these individuals, he’s given credence to their dangerous beliefs. We must take threats of violence from extremist groups seriously. Gov. LePage has once again shown a severe lapse in judgment that proves he’s not fit to lead the state of Maine,” said Congressman Mike Michaud, the Democratic nominee for governor.

In a, 20-minute audio recording of the Maine Watchman radio show taped after meetings with the governor, hosted by Steve Martin and Jack McCarthy, both members of the Sovereign Citizens movement, got a firsthand account of these individuals extreme beliefs. They espouse anti-Semitic and anti-LGBT conspiracy theories and warn of a “holocaust against America’s Christian population.”

“There is no place for this. It’s completely unacceptable. Gov. LePage owes the people of Maine an explanation and should denounce this at once,” said Michaud.

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Maine’s DEP needs to act on phthalates information to help protect innocent children

June 30th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Environment, Health Care, Public Safety, Science

Representative Matt Moonen speaking to the crowd about the dangers of phthalates.  On the right is Emily Postman, Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine. courtesy photo

Representative Matt Moonen speaking to the crowd about the dangers of phthalates. On the right is Emily Postman, Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine. courtesy photo

In Portland’s Monument Square in June citizens were given a chance to guess which common household products contain hormone-disrupting chemicals called phthalates. Hawkers offered passers-by a chance to win a prize for correctly identifying the products containing phthalates, but participants quickly realized there was no way to know, because information on phthalates is not provided on packaging or available in an internet search.

“It’s time to take the guesswork out of keeping our kids safe from phthalates. Maine’s Kid-Safe Products Act is a powerful tool for helping us get better information about which products contain dangerous chemicals, but it’s not being used to its potential. The citizen-initiated rule before the DEP would help parents and pregnant women avoid dangerous products and it would create market incentives for safer alternatives. It’s simple and common sense,” said Rep. Matt Moonen, a state legislator from Portland. “I urge the DEP to adopt it quickly.”

Phthalates are commonly used to soften vinyl plastic and are routinely added to hundreds of everyday products and building materials found in the home. They are also a frequent ingredient of “fragrance” found in many lotions, cosmetics, and other personal care products.

“Our children’s health shouldn’t be a game of chance,” said Barbara DiBiase, a grandmother from Falmouth. “It’s a very frustrating situation. Parents and pregnant women have a right to know which products contain these dangerous chemicals called phthalates.”

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Maine becomes first east coast state to study, plan, and prepare for ocean acidification

June 30th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Environment, Science

The Press conference in Portland explaining the dire issue of ocean acidification and what Maine, and the federal government is doing to help.  courtesy photo

The Press conference in Portland explaining the dire issue of ocean acidification and what Maine, and the federal government is doing to help. courtesy photo

Research tells us the world’s ocean water is becoming more acidic, and that spells trouble for shellfish like clams and oysters. Marine scientists are worried and so are businesses that rely on the ocean for their livelihoods. To better understand the problem and to help find solutions so the correct actions in the State Capitol the Maine Legislature voted overwhelmingly in April to form the Maine Ocean Acidification Commission. The 16-member panel was announced on the Portland waterfront with Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. The Congresswoman has introduced a bill that would require federal officials to study the effects of ocean acidification on coastal communities in Maine and around the country.

“Ocean acidification could be a real threat to the fisheries that are the lifeblood of coastal communities. The truth is we don’t fully understand how it would impact a vital industry like the lobster fishery and what the effect would be on Maine,” said Pingree. “We know what’s causing ocean acidification but now we need to better understand how hard it is going to hit coastal economies.”

Under Pingree’s legislation, the Secretary of Commerce would be required to conduct studies to identify which communities are most dependent on ocean resources and how acidification would affect them if valuable industries were impacted.

“Maine is taking the lead on ocean acidification on the Eastern seaboard. We understand that it is a real threat to our marine environment, jobs and way of life,” said Rep. Mick Devin, the House chair of the State Commission and a marine biologist who sponsored the legislation that created the panel. “The commission brings together talented individuals who will address this threat head-on and find ways to protect our marine resources and economies.”

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Gov. LePage attacks Social Security and Medicare insulting seniors in press release

June 25th, 2014 · 1 Comment · Capitol news

The Maine State Capitol

In a shocking press release today, Gov. Paul LePage referred to Social Security and Medicare as “welfare,” saying: “It doesn’t matter what liberals call these payments, it is welfare, pure and simple.”

The press release, which was sent by the Office of the Governor, was an attempt to explain away Maine’s poor economic performance but quickly turned into an attack on Maine’s seniors.

“LePage’s comments are an insult to Maine seniors who have worked long and hard to earn their Social Security and Medicare benefits,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, the Democratic nominee for governor. “These two programs have helped to provide a secure retirement to thousands upon thousands of hardworking men and women who have earned them one paycheck at a time. They deserve much better than to have their monthly Social Security checks called ‘welfare handouts.’ The governor should be embarrassed that he ever suggested such a thing.”

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